“Life’s too short to sit around and wait for something good
to fall down on you from your lucky star...” from “Flow”
Behold...a woman whose time has finally come. After being the go-to singer for an astoundingly diverse roster of musical talents that includes Norah Jones, Teena Marie, Stevie Wonder, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Yolanda Adams, Norman Brown, Bill Withers, Nancy Wilson, Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston and Seal, this lady is ready for the world to hear her voice, her music and her story. The lady is Lynne Fiddmont and her first step toward self-expression is her life-affirming debut album, Flow.
Flow is a 10-song collection of melodic, jazzy soul songs for which Lynne composed all but one. Beyond writing and singing, Lynne also produced the project, learning Pro Tools and other advanced studio techniques to ensure that she had a hand in every aspect of Flow. All of her hard-earned time in studios and on the road working amongst the very best the business has to offer (in all fields) has prepared Ms. Fiddmont for her maiden voyage as a complete artist in her own right. The key has been getting in tune with personal goals…and going with the flow.
“Flow is the developing philosophy for my life right now,” Lynne explains. “As things occur, you can either fight them or go with them, figuring out solutions and making the best of a challenging situation.” This philosophy was truly put to the test with her recent departure from fellow writing partner and musician, Wayne Linsey, after years of creative musical collaboration. “Artists by nature have to be selfish,” she admits, “taking the necessary time to create a unique body of work while maintaining one’s overall higher self.
When two artists are doing the same thing as a duo you have to continue to be headed in the same direction. However, people grow…and growth creates changes your personal dreams and aspirations.” Lynne is now enjoying the process of creating and promoting her music and herself. She got the push to pursue her own first album while in the middle of one of her voice-for-hire gigs. “I was recording some radio station i.d’s for ‘The Wave’ and Jeff Koz (Dave Koz’s brother at Hum Music). The program director Paul Goldstein happened to be there. After listening to me sing a few takes, he said, ‘Wow, if you do a record, I’ll play it!’”
Reflecting on how what she’s learned about relationships has manifested within her work, Lynne shares that the driving, inspirational mantra/prayer “Something I Can Feel” (featuring her brother Keith Fiddmont on soprano sax as well as a children’s choir) is the first song she wrote after her breakup. “It talks about wanting to believe in the love supreme,” she states, “and that love can conquer all. Sometimes it doesn’t, but that still doesn’t stop you from wanting that. The main idea is ‘I don’t want you to tell me that you love me. I want to feel it.’ It was inspired by Stevie Wonder’s ‘As’ because the hook has so many words and the structure goes through cycles.”
Insights of other sorts may be gleaned in Flow’s one cover song: “No Regrets,” composed and originally recorded by the great Phoebe Snow for her 1976 sophomore album, Second Childhood. It’s the second song that Lynne ever sang in public during a Junior Miss Pageant. “I was third runner up for Missouri,” she laughs. Lynne sings this song solely accompanied by electric piano. “I am a Phoebe Snow fan,” she confesses. “I like her phrasing, her vibrato...everything about her singing. I understand she has a disabled child and really slowed her career down to care for her. What a sacrifice. That says a lot about her.”
Addressing how the theme of regrets relates to her life, Lynne says, “I have no regrets. We had fun times and our children are beautiful. What we produced together was great, but that’s where the story ends.” Though some will assume the relationship missive “Say” (which recalls vintage Rufus meets Minnie Riperton) was written recently, it actually stems back nearly 20 years. From there, the album is overflowing with love and sweet vibrations in the sunny samba “Holiday” (produced by bassist Freddie Washington, best known for co-writing Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots,” also used in Will Smith’s “Men in Black”), the giddy “tickle break” interlude “Under the Influence,” and the sensual serenity of “Cupid.” “I love the opening lines,” Lynne sighs. “‘You are the song that my soul sings / You give my melody a meaning.’ I’m a hopeless romantic. That’s how I look at the possibilities of love. Just the idea that can exist is inspiring.”
Another love wrinkle can be found on “Feels So Right.” “That’s my sexy song,” Lynne chuckles. “It reminds me of some ol’ Isley Brothers! I wrote that one with Tim Carmon (who also co-wrote “Flow”). When he gave me the track, the first thing I instinctively knew was that the word ‘wrong’ goes here and the word ‘right’ goes there. Then I started thinking, ‘What’s wrong and what’s right?’ Then the story just came: ‘What’s wrong is wanting somebody else’s man!’” Such delectable scandal….
On a more serious note is the Spanish guitar-tinged “Daddy Lied” - not Lynne’s personal story, but a moving portrait of a little girl recalling memories of her father and the way he abandoned his family. “Daddy,” she sings at one turning point line, “you might as well have died....”
“Never Really Known Love” is actually the first song Lynne ever placed as a songwriter on another artist’s album. This song originally appeared on young pop star Tyler Collins’ 1992 album, Tyler. Lynne has now recorded it in an arrangement that takes some new harmonic detours (check the coda) that are all her own.
Flow closes on a note of bittersweet déjà vu with “You Are Loved,” a Quiet Storm classic that Lynne first recorded in 1991 on an album she did with Wayne (under the group name Linsey) on their debut album as a duo, Perfect Love. “That was the first song that Wayne and I wrote together,” she reminisces. “I still see it as my message to him.” Beyond her feelings for the original, Lynne is dedicating her new rendition of “You Are Loved” to the late Carl Anderson, a peerless artist with whom she shared many personal and professional memories, who, sadly, passed away this year (2004). “Carl always pushed me to do my thing,” Lynne states. “On his death bed I sang ‘You Are Loved’ and told him, ‘You always made me feel like I could sing and that I had something special to give.’”
Lynne Fiddmont has been giving people something she can feel since a young age. Raised in Richmond Heights, Missouri, Lynne and her whole family sang, so she never thought anything special about it. It was just a part of life, she figured, limiting her performances to garage bands and jams. But once she sang “Home” as “Dorothy” in a high school production of The Wiz (and received a standing ovation for her efforts), she began to take her “gift” a little more seriously. Her original musical goal was to clock dollars as a session and jingle singer, and eventually become a singing/songwriting star like Lionel Richie, or a songwriter for hire like Dianne Warren. “I want to make money while I sleep,” she purrs!
Singing-wise, young Lynne dabbled in bands, coffee houses and talent shows. However, her first professional gig came after someone sent a tape of her singing voice to Wilton Felder of The Crusaders. The reply was they wanted her for their next tour, and away she went, singing Randy Crawford staples such as “Street Life” and “One Day I’ll Fly Away” across the country.
Lynne attended Drake University, then Boston University, majoring in public relations. One day while singing on the streets of Boston, a Berkeley faculty member offered Lynne a scholarship. She seized the opportunity to cram in every class she could for a year - the jazz, rock AND recording ensembles - the moved to Los Angeles in 1985. Gigs with Bill Withers (on the reclusive legend’s final “Watching You, Watching Me Tour”) and Lou Rawls led to a lengthy association with Stevie Wonder. She got that coveted background vocal slot by singing an impromptu version of the Whitney Houston hit, “Saving All My Love For You.”
Outside of two Linsey projects, Lynne’s professional focus has exclusively been singing - for and with others. “So many of my friends are not doing it anymore and had to go get jobs,” she states. “I’ve gone through lean times, but never to the point of having to seek other employment.” From featured spots on contemporary jazz instrumentalists albums to landing another of her compositions “Somebody’s Watchin’ Over Me” (co-penned with Fred White) on a Howard Hewett gospel album, her talents have remained wide and impossible to categorize. Among the most proud of her accomplishments has been her work with jazz keyboard wizard Joe Zawinul and his group The Zawinul Syndicate. “I toured with Joe - playing percussion, keyboards AND singing - while I was carrying my first child,” she says laughing. “I got the gig just before I found out I was pregnant. I thought he was going to have to let me go. When I told him, he said in his thick accent, ‘What better thing to show than life!’ I love him for that. It made my pregnancy go quickly because I was busy working, doing what I love.”
And she’s still doing it, embarking on Phil Collins’ “First Final Farewell Tour” through 2004. Now, more importantly, the lady who has contributed so much to the music of others is finally receiving the reciprocal love she deserves. Flow marks Fiddmont time! “You know,” she muses, “I’ve never felt that before…but I feel it now! It’s been great doing things that were once ‘off limits,’ like producing or Pro Tools.
I called in many of my favorite bass players (the instrument of her heart) and even had to tell one of them to go home after I felt the part he played was sufficient! There aren’t many women producing, editing and recording. I refuse to be limited. I want to express my full potential, whatever that is. It has nothing to do with anyone else. I feel like I’m finally getting that, and its great!”
If there is one additional message she would like to get across to the music industry with its reams of demographic breakout charts and such, it is this: Life Does Not End At 20! “I don’t think it’s wise that the music world is so youth-driven,” she explains. “Think about what you know at 20 vs. what you have to offer and say later on. If you cut people off who have life experience and/or musical experience, then you’re missing out on some interesting things that may benefit the music community and the community at large. In ancient communities, elders are looked up to with reverence.
We need to pull some of that back. I don’t support the idea that more mature audiences are the ‘wrong demographic.’”
“Personally,” Ms. Lynne Fiddmont – singer, songwriter, producer, performer and mother of son Courtney and daughter Alana - concludes...in full-on Flow mode, “I feel like I’m just now becoming the full me.”
A. Scott Galloway 2004
Please visit http://www.lynnefiddmont.com for more information.
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